I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Why the Memories and Flashbacks Now? (Part 1 of 3)

A few years ago I read a fascinating master’s thesis about men who faced their childhood abuse in what we call middle age—late 30s to early 50s.

Why then? I don’t know all the reasons, but I’m among those middle-aged types. At age 51, the reality of my childhood broke through—and it was a painful time for me. For days I couldn’t get past flashbacks and vivid memories.

Why did it take me so long to face the ordeal and the pain of those early years? The most satisfying answer I’ve found is that it didn’t happen until I felt safe. I’d been married to a caring woman for nearly 30 years. Although I use the term safe, another way to express it is that I finally understood I was loved for who I was and not for what I said or did.

For most of those years, I had been an ordained minister and heavily involved in others’ lives. On some kind of unconscious level, I believed that if I behaved kindly and warmly, I’d be loved and accepted. That may be true, but it also meant I worked to earn that kind of acceptance.

When I finally grasped that I was loved for who I was without conditions or qualifications, I was ready to face my past.

How about you?

When did you face your abusive past?


Mark Cooper said...

I started dealing more deeply with my past abuse about 6 years ago, in my early forties. My dad's death seemed to open the door to my being able to address abuse. Flashbacks started several months after his passing.

Jesus said...

Ref your brilliant prose -
"For most of those years, I had been an ordained minister and heavily involved in others’ lives. On some kind of unconscious level, I believed that if I behaved kindly and warmly, I’d be loved and accepted. That may be true, but it also meant I worked to earn that kind of acceptance.

When I finally grasped that I was loved for who I was without conditions or qualifications, I was ready to face my past."

With reference to earning that acceptance touches on precisely in the following sentence, that I was ready to face the past. I am not in that acceptance in myself but believe am in Christ, a journey of more than 1000 steps that I have not chosen to pity myself. And coming out also in middle age,painful that it was as I was wanting confirmation from my counsellor (Dr Clinical Psychologist/Polish woman)that I was in the wheelchair, I felt not knowing if I was normal or an abuser. I was at that time just got to know Jesus, my father had just died, mother some 5 years before. I felt alone, and the process of knocking at my door loomed on a life without anyone and just separated from first love. If i look back, then when heard the knocking and JESUS saying look let me in, I want to change your life. I probably was desperate at that time as I had no excuse to live a life with abuse which I still participated in voluntary as an adult since separating from first love. My identity was as far as gender a mess. My counsellor was the first person to put back in my life the conversations a little boy would have wanted with his mother, that I did not have as she was mentally ill and my father often not at home in the early infant to puberty days and when I did meet with father more 11-15, the abuse had already set in and never discussed with him, yet as a child looked up to him - a war hero, teacher, counsellor and really a full-time nurse to my mother all of his life. Well meeting Jesus 40+ and a new wife, must have been grace, even though today with 2 fine children and in the later stage of life - the flashbacks still affect me. My wife wonderful she is, really stop being intimate after two children and when we were close, it was difficult as she was not able to have ordinary births due to problems with her physiology. It has been always painful for her to be intimate, and I stopped in wanting to initiate intimacy as it felt like how it felt for me loosing control as a child in abuse. My first feeling inappropriate as it was with my own anatomy, often reminds me as I am still active with respect to the opposite with my wife and in these times go through struggles to shut-out the need for intimacy. I revert to acting out my first childhood sexual experience and always pray that although a weakness, I am not righteous in that but in Christ.

Presently still saved..

Roger Mann said...

"When I finally grasped that I was loved for who I was without conditions or qualifications, I was ready to face my past."

This struck me also. I am not sure I understood it in those terms but I had been married for over 15 years and felt safe and secure. In the middle of dealing with all of this my wife divorced me and threw me into a tailspin. Still I had learned enough at that stage from my counselor and other survivors to get me through that trauma and to keep me moving on.

Another common thing I noticed also though in talking to other survivors who were abused at a young age; the birth of their first child or the child reaching the age in which they were abused themselves can be a serious trigger. And that is especially true if it was a relative.

Larry Clemson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Clemson said...

It was about 8 years ago when I really started facing it. I was in early 40's.A few years after my Dad passed away & within that year we had two tragic deaths in my family. The grief seemed to trigger the beginning of the journey. I also became a dad for the first time a couple years after the deaths. I think maybe these events in my life started the process.
I don't know if i had flashbacks but I did recall more of the abuse. In prayer I wondered why I couldn't remember more - I did recollect that the abusers offered my friend an I some koolaid & I think they put something in it to sedate us.

Lee said...

I first started facing my abuse when i was in my mid-30s. I was married and had two pre-school kids. We had just left a controlling and abusive cult and moved cross-country to be closer to family. After months of looking, I was still without full-time work. I felt like a failure - unable to support my family. Being new in town, we had no support system. In the aftermath of the cult, I was feeling duped, used, and foolish.

I became more and more depressed and was at a very low place. While my emotional defenses were weakened the locks i thought i had secured on my memories broke and the dam burst. All my shortcomings and failures and disappointments rushed back to deluge me in a flood of regrets, recriminations, and self-condemnation. I could hear the step-dad (the first of about a dozen abusers) predicting my ultimate failure and telling me repeatedly that I was worthless and would never amount to anything. I was blind-sided by long-buried memories of things he and others had done to me that made me feel hurt, dirty, and damaged. I began to drown in the pain and suffering of the long distant past. I could barely go through the motions of daily life, but was withdrawn, uncommunicative, and zombie-like. Suicide again seemed like the only option to stop the pain. I thought my family would be better off without me.

My wife was worried and frustrated because she didn’t understand what was going on. She urged me to get help. I fearfully and reluctantly took a huge risk in confessing the causes of my depression to a new friend who referred me to a Christian counselor. Despite the high cost of counselling and our low bank balance, I began to get professional help.

Cecil "Cec" Murphey said...

This comes from Dann:

I was 35-(30 years after the abuse). Also after over 10 years of marriage and my coming to understand that I am loved for who I am. I'm now 51.

Cecil Murphey said...

These comments keep coming. It reminds me that there are still many, many hurting men.
I'm grateful to all of you who subscribe to this blog and especially for those of you post. Your words and experience encourage others. Keep sharing with us.


Jesus said...

I am now a young 60ish plus but after my first wife left me, no warning but I was travelling and as there were intimate problems growing this I felt showed me how important it is to have a partner who you first can have a family, then its grace all the way then. I really loved my first partner, married 8 years but away most of that but she had fear of having children, and was from a Catholic Irish background, 8 children and think that this background did not help her. I felt it very bad when we departed, and went spiral into searching out those shelters, that Simon and Garfunkel mentioned in their wonderful worded song. It was one of those sheltered nights that I was unfaithful and confessed why. I know now that when intimacy is removed, you revert back to your first loss and that was for me my mother going into an Asylum prior to my experience of the first feeling of love from my abuser. I carried the guilt of that and shame of my mother growing up, with little input from a returning WW2 father, who was an educated man and a life-long nurse to my mother. He drank as soldiers learn to do in more than average but kept a job all his life but I never held him or got any growing up - a boy needs from father and nurturing from a mother. Not too sure how I survived but for Grace - today with late second marriage and two boys 21 and 15. I still get bad dreams when stressed of being abused, symbols etc and in really stressed moments - act out. I feel that I have attained a Doctorate in Live-Living, etc.
Thanks for listening and sharing

Cecil Murphey said...

Thanks, Jesus, for sharing your heart once again. As I read it reminds me that no matter how dark life seems, there is always light up ahead.